An UNDO Project
Last Updated: 3/10/2023
Man in dark background with smoke around his faceMan in dark background with smoke around face

Rural Communities

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The Story of Rural Communities

Rural communities are full of hardworking people who value strength and independence. Tobacco companies understand this, so they package and advertise their deadly products to play to values of self-reliance and resiliency with images such as cowboys, hunters, and racecar drivers. Big Tobacco aggressively markets cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products like chew in rural areas, taking advantage of weaker tobacco retail licensing laws in rural communities.1 This has contributed to increased smokeless tobacco use rates among high school males in rural areas, exceeding the national average.2

Because of these practices, rural counties have some of the highest smoking rates in California,3 and rural residents start smoking at an earlier age.4 Rural counties also suffer higher rates of lung cancer,5 and smoking causes 80-90 percent of lung cancer cases. That’s why it’s more important than ever to ensure rural communities are truly free from Big Tobacco’s deadly, addictive products.

The proof is in the data

[Data last updated March 2023 ]
Indicator
Rural Communities
General Population
Adult tobacco use
1. Adult cigarette use: Adult cigarette smoking prevalence
8.3%
The estimate is significantly higher than the California general population.
6.7%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2019-20. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
2. Change in adult cigarette use: Rate of change in adult cigarette smoking, 2014 to 2020
-39.9%
The 2020 estimate is significantly lower than the 2014 estimate.
-46.4%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2019-20. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2013-14. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
3. Adult tobacco use: Adult tobacco use prevalence (e.g. cigarettes, e-cigarettes and other vaping products, other tobacco products)
12.9%
11.3%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2019-20. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
Youth Tobacco Use
4. Youth cigarette use: Youth cigarette smoking prevalence
1.7%
1.2%
  • California Student Tobacco Survey, 2019-20. San Diego, CA: Center for Research and Intervention in Tobacco Control, University of California, San Diego.
5. Youth tobacco use: Youth tobacco use prevalence (e.g. cigarettes, e-cigarettes and other vaping products, other tobacco products)
12.6%
The estimate is significantly higher than the California general population.
9.7%
  • California Student Tobacco Survey, 2019-20. San Diego, CA: Center for Research and Intervention in Tobacco Control, University of California, San Diego.
Availability of tobacco & tobacco industry influence
6. Cheapest cigarettes: Average price for the cheapest pack of cigarettes
$7.02
$7.11
  • Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community, 2019. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program.
  • American Community Survey, 2014-2018. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
7. Flavored little cigar price: Average price for a single flavored little cigar/cigarillo
$0.97
$0.97
  • Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community, 2016. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program.
  • American Community Survey, 2011-2015. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
8. Tobacco retail licensing: Proportion of population protected by a strong tobacco retail licensing law
57%
59.5%
  • Policy Evaluation Tracking System, April 2021. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program.
  • American Community Survey, 2015-2019. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Decennial Census, 2010. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
9. Tobacco stores: Density of stores selling tobacco per 100,000 residents
92.6
The estimate is 10.0 stores per 100,000 higher than the California general population.
77
  • California Cigarette and Tobacco Products Retailer Licensees, November 2021. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Tax and Fee Administration.
  • American Community Survey, 2014-2018. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Decennial Census, 2010. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
10. Flavored tobacco: Proportion of stores that sell flavored non-cigarette tobacco products
86.6%
The estimate is significantly higher than the California general population.
81.8%
  • Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community, 2019. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program.
  • American Community Survey, 2014-2018. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
11. Menthol cigarettes: Proportion of stores that sell menthol cigarettes
92.4%
The estimate is significantly higher than the California general population.
88.3%
  • Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community, 2019. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program.
  • American Community Survey, 2014-2018. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
12. Tobacco advertising: Proportion of stores that keep 90% of their storefront free from any advertising
39.5%
40.1%
  • Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community, 2019. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program.
  • American Community Survey, 2014-2018. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
Secondhand smoke
13. Adult secondhand tobacco exposure: Proportion of adults exposed to secondhand smoke or vape
31.6%
The estimate is significantly lower than the California general population.
35.2%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2019-20. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
14. Youth secondhand tobacco exposure: Proportion of youth exposed to secondhand smoke or vape
35.7%
33.1%
  • California Student Tobacco Survey, 2019-20. San Diego, CA: Center for Research and Intervention in Tobacco Control, University of California, San Diego.
15. Smoke-free multi-unit housing: Proportion of population protected by a smoke-free multi-unit housing law
75.9%
66.7%
  • Policy Evaluation Tracking System, April 2021. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program.
  • American Community Survey, 2015-2019. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Decennial Census, 2010. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
16. Smoke-free homes: Proportion of adults with smoke-free homes
92.2%
91.9%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2019-20. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
Cessation
17. Quitting: Proportion of smokers who tried quitting in the last 12 months
49%
55.6%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2019-20. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
18. Doctor advice to quit: Proportion of smokers whose doctors advised them to quit
49.6%
46.8%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2017-18. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
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A Story of Inequity

Tobacco’s impact on health disparities in California

For decades, the tobacco industry has aggressively targeted California’s diverse communities with predatory practices. Internal documents from Big Tobacco outline their strategies – many of which are shocking attempts to peddle deadly products by way of product discounts and manipulative advertising. They even gave away free products to youth in the past. These tactics masquerade as support for communities under the guise of cultural celebration.

Unfortunately, the tactics have worked. Big Tobacco aggressively targeted communities and, as a result, some populations have higher rates of tobacco use, experience greater secondhand smoke exposure at work and at home, and have higher rates of tobacco-related disease than the general population.1

Addressing tobacco-related health inequities is key to California’s efforts to fight tobacco, our state’s number one cause of preventable death and disease.2 Tobacco use, pricing, and its impact across California were analyzed where significant disparities were found across various populations. See how Big Tobacco affects each community in the Nation’s most diverse state.

A Story Of Inequity methodology >